October 1, 2021

GLOBAL ENERGY SHORTAGE

  • China
    • Rationing electricity to energy hungry businesses because of a coal shortage
    • Limited coal supplies are due to higher safety standards for mines and increased enforcement of emission standards
    • Local officials are being held accountable for limiting energy demand in their regions
    • State-owned energy companies have been told to secure supplies for this winter at all costs
      • Miners have been told to produce coal at full capacity even if they exceed annual quotas
    • Energy and power issues will potentially further disrupt the global supply chain
  • EUROPE AND THE UK
    • Natural gas prices have increased by almost 500% in the past year
      • Many local factors, including low natural gas stockpiles, low output from the region’s windmills and solar farms, and nuclear plant maintenance shutdowns
      • Europe is hoping for mild and windy weather to assist with wind power…when it is very cold, there is often little wind
    • German electricity producer is halting a power plant after it ran out of coal because of shortages in production and logistical issues, with no end in sight. Coal accounted for 26% of Germany’s power generation in H1 2021
      • Many utilities across Europe have restarted coal plants because of rising natural gas prices
    • UK is facing an acute shortage of truck drivers because of COVID and Brexit, which is impacting delivery of fuel and other products

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

  • Norway’s $1.4 trillion USD sovereign-wealth fund (owns 1.5% of global equities), will insist that all companies in its portfolio have clear targets for cutting CO2 emissions.
  • Caisse De Depot (Canada’s 2nd largest pension manager) will divest its remaining oil-production assets by the end of 2022.
  • More than 12 institutional investors (including Blackstone and Canada Pension Plan) who oversee more than $4 trillion, are working to standardize data metrics on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance).
  • 112 investment funds managing over $30 trillion in assets (including Fidelity and Amundi) called on 1,600 of the world’s most polluting companies to set science-based emission reduction targets.
  • ESS Inc, an Oregon company, has new technology that can store renewable energy for longer using “iron-flow chemistry” made of iron salt and water instead of lithium-ion batteries.
    • ESS has an order (over the next 5 years) for enough batteries to power 50,000 American homes/day.
  • DEEP Earth Energy Production Corp is drilling for hot water in Saskatchewan to power Canada’s first geothermal power plant by 2024. Test wells are scattered across the prairies.

TIDBITS

  • 25% of American companies have established a vaccine mandate as a condition of employment and an additional 13% plan to put a mandate in place. In August, only 16% of companies had a mandate.
  • In response to employees being hassled, a number of fast-food chains in the US are closing indoor dining rather than checking for vaccination status (McDonalds, Taco Bell, White Castle).
  • PwC is now offering full time remote work to its 40,000 employees.
  • GM is going to have cloud-based software in its cars starting in 2023.
  • Zillow says US rents are increasing at rates of more than 10% Y/Y and in some cities in Florida and Georgia, rents are up 25% Y/Y.
  • Amazon is launching a $1,000 voice-controlled robot called ‘Astro’ along with other smart home technology.